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Junior Country Life Library

Country Life, who still publish the magazine of that name, ran a publishing house in the early years of the last century, specialising in country related titles. They published a selection of children’s books, targeted at the children of County Life readers, on the (presumably well founded) assumption that the children shared their parents’ countryside interests. Not all the children’s books Country Life published were pony books, but they formed the major part of the list. Other animals (and birds) did get a look in: M E Buckingham’s Argh the Tiger being a more memorable title, together with books about rather more accessible creatures, like Mark Flint’s Grig the Greyhound and G Cornwallis-West’s Us Dogs.


The Junior Country Life Library was a uniform, and cheaper, edition of Country Life’s more popular children’s titles. Each title generally had a black and white illustration on the dustjacket, with a brightly coloured border to add interest. The titles were labeled as first editions: it is more accurate to say that they were first editions in that format. The vast majority of titles had earlier printings which were the first true edition.


What order the Library was published in is uncertain. I have included below the order which appears most often in advertisement form. The list is not complete: what title number 2 and several of its fellows were is still a mystery. Almost all of the surviving printed lists contained the same titles as in the illustration bottom right. To add to the confusion, other titles were occasionally badged as Junior Country Life editions but were not numbered, and didn’t appear to be issued in the standard format.


There are still some titles in this series I’ve never seen. Maybe they are lurking out there somewhere. Perhaps the dearth of surviving titles was due to the advent of war and the resulting paper shortages, leading to very short print runs. Bearing in mind the amount of advertising the series received, and its low price, it would seem logical to suppose that more of its titles would have survived if normal conditions had prevailed.


Whatever its print runs, Country Life did its best to sell the series. Country Life also published Riding magazine, and made full use of its sister publication to advertise its titles. It was a rare edition of Riding that passed without an advertisement for a Country Life title, and the Junior Country Life Library had its full share of plugs, both in editorial and advertisement form.


Although cheaper editions, the quality of the Junior Country Life Library was still way ahead of later pony book libraries, such as the Seagull and Collins imprints. If you can find them, the books generally survive in very good order. They are a window into a world long gone.


I’ve included below all the Junior Country Life pony titles I know about. I am still short of a lot of photographs, so if you can provide any I’d be very grateful. Please contact me.


Sources:

Country Life titles (the rear cover to the left is from the 1940 printing of Brenda E Spender’s On’y Tony)

Riding Magazine, Winter 1941

Riding Magazine, Spring, 1942

The Junior Country Life Library

(pony titles in bold)


1. John Thorburn: Hildebrand

2. John Thorburn: Three's Company

3. Major John Budden: Charlie the Fox

4. Richard Ball: Broncho

5.

6. M E Buckingham: Phari

7. Brenda E Spender: On'y Tony

8.

9. M E Buckingham: Argh - the Tale of a Tiger

10. Brenda E Spender: Mock Uncle

11. Audrey Blewitt: Ponies and Children

12.

13. Brenda E Spender: On'y Tony's Circus

14. Marjorie Mary Oliver and Eva Ducat: The Ponies of Bunts

15. Marjorie Mary Oliver: Sea Ponies

16. Primrose Cumming: Doney

17. Eden Phillpotts: The White Camel

18. Primrose Cumming: Spider Dog

19. M Garland Bullivant: Little Lass

20. Nason: Dog with a Bad Name

21. K F Barker: Traveller's Joy

22. K F Barker: Himself

23. Hermione Ratcliff: Golden Knight

24. Cynthia Harnett: David's New World

25. Captain J E Hance: Riders of Tomorrow

26. Margaret Sackville: Mr Horse's New Shoes

27. Brenda E Spender: On'y Tony and the Dragon

28. Golden Gorse: Janet and Felicity

29. H W Longden: Ways of the Veld Dwellers

30. K F Barker: Champion - Bull Terrier

31. Golden Gorse: Moorland Mousie

32. Golden Gorse: Older Mousie

33. M E Buckingham: Rajah the Elephant

34. C E Heanley: Peter and Co

35. C Acton: Stories of the Saddle

36. Mark Flint: Grig the Greyhound

37. Eleanor Helme: Furlong Farm

38. Ida Gandy: The Chestnut Tree

39. Phillis Garrard: Plum Duff and Prunella

40. J Ivester Lloyd: Joey

41. Primrose Cumming: Rachel of Romney

42. Ann C Edmonds: Silent Flight

43. Pamela Phillips: The Chestnut Pony

44. Mary Mason: Flame - the Story of a Setter

45. Mary Garland Bullivant: Fortune's Foal

46. Shirley Faulkner-Horne: Pat and Her Polo Pony

47. G Cornwallis-West: Us Dogs


Other titles mentioned as being in the Junior Country Life Library, but not included in any list yet seen:



Anne Bullen: Darkie

Naomi Wainwright: Island Pony Club

Enid Blyton: The Children of Cherrytree Farm

Marjorie Mary Oliver: Horseman's Island

Marjorie Mary Oliver & Eva Ducat: The Ponies Of Bunts

Marjorie Mary Oliver: Riding Days in Hook’s Hollow

Julia Wynmalen: Holly: the Education of a Pony

Marjorie Mary Oliver: Ponies and Caravans

Primrose Cumming: Trouble at Trimbles

Joyce Lennon: Misty the Grey Pony

ME Buckingham: The Great Carlos

Elinore M Havers: Wigwam Island

J Ivester Lloyd: The People of the Valley

The titles

18 Primrose Cumming Spider Dog

1 John Thorburn Hildebrand

7 Brenda E Spender

On'y Tony

13 Brenda E Spender On'y Tony's Circus

19 M Garland Bullivant Little Lass

M E Buckingham - The Great Carlos

25 Captain J E Hance Riders of Tomorrow

26 Margaret Sackville Mr Horse's New Shoes

27 Brenda E Spender On'y Tony and the Dragon

34 C E Heanley
Peter & Co

40 J Ivester Lloyd

Joey

43 Pamela Phillips

The Chestnut Pony

46 Shirley Faulkner-Horne - Pat and Her Polo Pony

Other titles not numbered

J Ivester Lloyd - The People of the Valley

Anne Bullen & Rosamund Oldfield - Darkie

15 Marjorie Mary Oliver
Sea Ponies